Democrats in Wisconsin picked up two state senate seats in an unprecedented recall election:
Democrats defeated Republican state Sen. Dan Kapanke, who represented the most Dem-leaning seat of any Republican in the chamber, by a 55%-45% margin. They also won a 51%-49% victory over state Sen. Randy Hopper, whose campaign was also damaged by a messy divorce, and allegations by his estranged wife that he "now lives mostly in Madison" after having an affair.
This would get Democrats from their previous 19-14 minority, following the 2010 Republican wave, to a 17-16 margin. In two more safe Republican districts, incumbents Robert Cowles and Sheila Harsdorf won by margins of 60%-40% and 58%-42%, respectively
At the very least, this might signal to the Wisconsin GOP that a good chunk of the electorate believes they lurched too far right since being elected:
All six of these districts were, on paper, serious uphill climbs for Democrats. The incumbents were last elected in 2008, winning their districts even in the middle of the huge Democratic wave that year.
After this near-miss, the next question becomes: How will this result impact the Democrats' declared intentions to recall Gov. Scott Walker some time next year? Will the Dems' grassroots energy flatten out -- or can it keep going, towards the lofty goal of collecting over half a million signatures, plus a buffer, to trigger a recall election?
It also means, for the next 15 months or so, Wisconsin politics might be the most divisive and vicious in the country. Thanks for all your help, Koch brothers!